Increasing participation and sustainability in your congregation
By Troy Pollock
Your church is on a mission to make a positive impact in the lives of those in your community and to give them a sense of belonging.
As a church leader, you know one of the key indicators of church participation is its generosity.
While generosity is definitely an outgrowth of community participation, the right tools will help keep your members connected and engaged.
Church tools to engage the whole person
While generosity is a good barometer of community participation, it’s important to understand that people give for a reason. If you’re not communicating those reasons effectively and often, you’re not connecting with the whole person on their own terms. You need a strategy to draw people into deeper fellowship with your church, but if you’re using outdated models of communication, you might be missing an opportunity to connect. Direct mailers, emails, and announcements from stage all have their place, but don’t make the mistake of downplaying how effective a mobile strategy can be when it comes to connecting with your people.
Life today is happening on mobile
Think back 10 years, when smartphones disrupted the status quo. Most of us can remember those PowerPoint slides reminding churchgoers to silence their phones before the service began. Though it still exists, this attitude which perceives mobile devices as a distraction is less common these days.
Today, people expect participation to come through an app — whether it’s finding information, giving money, or connecting with the community. If you value clearing hurdles away from the community member’s journey, you have to meet them in ways that align with their established rhythms of life. If you want to meet people where they’re at, you need to meet them on mobile.
Mobile provides opportunities for personalization
According to Pew Research, two-thirds of American adults are on Facebook? [ http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/10/5-facts-about-americans-and-facebook/ ] One of the key factors in Facebook’s success is the personalized, relevant experience it provides. Not only does Facebook help us connect with friends and relatives, but it is very good at feeding us content that is relevant to our interests.
The same is true of YouTube, Spotify and Instagram. We receive personalized recommendations for songs, videos or products related to prior online purchases. The machine learning and deep data analytics these platforms employ tailor our online experience according to our interests. This presents an unprecedented opportunity for churches to personalize our communications to our members and to meet them where they’re at.
Sustainability is key
It’s not just about finding the right tool; it’s about finding the right company that can support your givers, grow alongside your ministry, and continue to innovate at the pace your community demands.
There are many tools to choose from, but finding the right tool is only half the battle. You need an always-on giving solution with a guarantee that you won’t miss a donation. You also need a mobile-first solution that keeps your community engaged in ways that align with their regular, day-to-day rhythms. That means it has to work. And it has to work all the time. In today’s mobile world, you never know when a member of your congregation will open an app or log on to participate. You technology needs to be reliable.
Historically, the church has taken advantage of technological trends for the sake of spreading the gospel message. The printing press made Bibles affordable and encouraged literacy. The late evangelist Billy Graham used television to broadcast his evangelistic crusades. Technology is advancing at a breakneck speed, and the church has unprecedented opportunities through data analytics and machine learning to know, understand and engage members of their community.
These tools are at your fingertips, too — and many churches use these insights to reach their communities. The question now is: What will you do to take full advantage of the tools at your disposal?
Troy Pollock is the VP of Community at Pushpay
[ https://pushpay.com ]. He has more than a decade of experience in the faith and technology industries. He is passionate about helping customers grow participation and engagement in their ministries.